This kind of overreacting is what makes the United States so ‘different’ from the rest of the planet. Ugh…
“Denver Police have issued an internal bulletin for all officers to be on the lookout for anyone stockpiling potential weapons that may be deployed during next week’s Democratic National Convention, including items like maps and bicycles.
Bicycles “are used to blockade sidewalks, streets and can be used to slow down responding emergency vehicles,” according to the document.
On Friday, officers questioned a woman who was unloading bricks from a truck in front of her home on the 1000 block of Lipan Street, telling her a neighbor had complained she was stockpiling them to be used as weapons during the convention.
“This is bad policing, this is bad policy,” said Mark Silverstein, legal director for the ACLU-Colorado, who held a press conference this afternoon to discuss the document. “In light of the spy files case five years ago, this document is unnecessarily provocative.
“It exaggerates the specter of violent protesters. It gets police officers amped up with adrenaline, presenting them with the image of bomb-throwing Bolsheviks on bicycles.”
The police bulletin, issued last Thursday by the department’s intelligence unit, stated that “past practices of demonstrators show that they will use outlying abandoned buildings, homes, camping facilities, secluded woods and farm fields to store their supplies.”
It stated that small amounts of items cause no concerns “but all first-responders need to be alert for medium and large numbers of these items that seem out of place for its location.”
The list included metal and plastic shields; helmets of all sorts including football, baseball, motorcycle and bicycle; surplus gas masks; baseball catcher chest protectors; cases or coils of nails; thick or extra long wooden handles for signs; metal pipes; chemicals; and information about camping spaces, rented farms or land.
Sarah Bardwell, 25, told the media she had been contacted by the FBI’s Joint Terrorist Task Force in 2004 while she was involved in the group “Food Not Bombs”, which was feeding the homeless and repairing free bicycles.
On Friday, a Denver police officer came to her house to ask what she was doing with the bricks.
“A cousin of mine who is a contractor brought over a truckload of bricks that were left over from a job,” she said, adding that she was going to use the bricks to fix up her “very decayed” house and for garden borders.
“We didn’t know about the bulletin (which had been released the day before the police visit)but now it seems very unlikely that any of our neighbors called,” she said.
Silverstein said the document violates the settlement of a class-action lawsuit in 2003 over police “spy files” in which police admitted they had been keeping intelligence files of all sorts of individuals. That settlement expired in May, Silverstein said.
“It appears that the Denver Police intelligence unit is at it once again,” he said. “This document went out all over the state.
“We want to know what is going on with collecting this information and who will receive this information. We have learned that all too often the collecting of this information is then classified under potential domestic terrorism.”
Cathy Hazouri, executive director of ACLU-Colorado, said the federal government has set up a “fusion center” in Centennial, where federal, state and local law enforcement officers assemble information gathered “on ordinary citizens,” she said. “The information isn’t verified. The center operates secretly and involves the military, which is a violation of law.”
She said the Department of Justice has been encouraging private businesses to cooperate on information gathering–businesses such as grocery stores, banks, schools, utility companies and private physicians.
“We’d like to know what is going on in Centennial and what are they doing with (the information)?” she said.